TUESDAY is the ugly sister of Monday. So goes an anonymous remark. July 9 turned out to be so, depending on how you see it.
It was on that Tuesday that former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was appointed chairman of the Barisan Nasional advisory board.
Understandably, the appointment caused some disquiet in Umno. Two big names in the party — Khairy Jamaluddin and Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, former ministers in Najib’s cabinet — were understandably distressed to no end by the appointment.
We think they spoke for many. Do not misunderstand us. We wish Umno no harm, notwithstanding Najib’s remark of the New Straits Times being unfriendly to the party.
There is a place for Umno in Malaysia for at least two reasons. One, it has a long history which dates back to March 1946. Its power is lethal, when it uses it wisely, that is. The end of the Malayan Union is one example of the wise use of its power.
Two, the party has the numbers. In the recent past, some party members went on record as saying that Umno had three million members. If this were true, they would have won the 14th General Election (GE14).
Unless, of course, Umno members have the perverse practice of voting for other parties. A realistic number must be substantially lower. This notwithstanding, Umno has a reasonable voter base.
And reasonably, Umno must use it. One giant step Umno can make to move this 73-year-old party forward is to allow the young to lead the party. The old, especially those who have led the party into its first disastrous defeat, must step aside.
Those who are defeated are the last ones to teach others how not to lose. History has many examples of self-serving politicians destroying political parties. Umno must not allow itself to be so used.
There are lessons aplenty for Umno — and its coalition partners — in GE14. It must ask itself why a party that seemed so indestructible can evaporate so quickly.
There are many reasons — this precious space isn’t one for political consultancy — but one must have stood out: unfettered control of all that is the government’s. No checks, no balances. Surely, the slowest to learn would have grasped it by now.
People were pushed to the wall. Something had to give. Seeing it, the then divided opposition rallied around one objective: the ouster of Najib and his cabinet. Now to put Najib back, albeit as adviser, is to go against this current of opinion.
Umno has a place for Malays. This cannot be denied. To accept this does not mean we are for a race-based party. Far from it. Our interest lies elsewhere.
We encourage Umno to fight its political battles on policies, not continue to drool on it being “robbed” of this and that. Seven decades and three years is time enough to mature as a political party. Others have had lesser time.
Going back to the old ways is like falling in love with defeat. This time, the end may be quick and complete. NST will hate to see Umno wilt.